Ex-Aussie professor to face court over underpayment

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Sydney, April 4 (IANS) A former economics professor is facing court for allegedly paying foreign workers at his Asian grocery store in Melbourne as little as 10 Australian dollars an hour, authorities said on Wednesday.

Jordan Shan, formerly an associate professor of applied economics at the Victoria University of Technology, and the company Jenni International, which had operated the store in downtown Melbourne with Shan as the sole director, allegedly underpaid two South Korean employees a total of 14,015 Australian dollars over less than four months in 2016, according to a statement from the Fair Work Ombudsman, an independent statutory agency of the Australian government, Xinhua news agency reported.

The employees, in their mid-20s, were on working holiday visas. One of them was a full-time employee, working six or seven days a week with duties including ordering and stacking stock, while the other was a part-time cashier, said the agency.

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The workers were allegedly paid flat rates of 10 to 12.50 Australian dollars an hour, despite being entitled to minimum hourly rates of 19.44 Australian dollars for normal hours. The agency’s inspectors investigated the case after the workers asked for help.

The underpayments allegedly occurred despite the agency had previously told Shan about workplace law violations.

The seriousness of the alleged contraventions, with factors such as the low wages, vulnerable workers and an employer who had been put on notice, were key in deciding to take legal action, the agency’s acting head Kristen Hannah said.

Shan faces penalties of up to 10,800 Australian dollars per contravention and the company faces additional penalties of up to 54,000 Australian dollars per contravention.

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–IANS

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